Addiction Recovery

Why COVID-19 Caused a Rise in Relapse

Why COVID-19 Caused a Rise in Relapse [and What to Do About It]

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted almost everyone in some way. Some people lost jobs. Others lost loved ones. Some even had to battle the COVID virus, themselves. 

But for recovering addicts, COVID struck twice as hard. The addiction epidemic was already running rampant throughout the country, and a pandemic decided to show up, it’s almost as if the two teamed up to make matters worse for those in recovery. 

Simply put, COVID-19 has created a larger addiction problem and has caused a rise in relapses over the last year. 

Why the sudden spike? And what can be done about it now? If you’re a recovering addict, what can you do to protect yourself from relapsing, or get back on track if you’ve already slipped?

Why the Rise in Relapse

Since the pandemic began, there have been plenty of rules and restrictions put in place. The most widely used practices have included social distancing, quarantining/staying home, and wearing masks while out. 

Unfortunately, all three practices can be difficult for those in recovery. 

Isolation comes with plenty of problems for everyone. It has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and a weaker immune system. From a mental health standpoint, it can cause anxiety and depression. 

For a recovering addict, feeling alone is even harder. It’s important to have a support system and people who can hold you accountable. When you feel you can’t see those people who help you or reach out when you’re triggered, it can make it far too easy to relapse. A report by NPR found an 18% increase in overdoses across the U.S. throughout the pandemic. People staying at home and abusing alcohol and other substances behind closed doors created a dangerous combination.

The Stress of Everything

It’s not just the isolation that has triggered a rise in relapse across the country. This pandemic has caused a lot of fear, uncertainty, and stress for everyone. Maybe you had just gotten a new job but were laid off because of the virus. Or maybe you haven’t been able to see older family members or high-risk friends. You might even be concerned about your financial situation. 

Everyone has their own “triggers” with substance use. But a common trigger is stress. Many addicts use alcohol or other substances to deal with stress or cope with anxiety. 

When you feel you don’t have any other outlet and the stress is getting to you, relapsing becomes a greater possibility. 

What Can You Do About It?

The most important thing you can do to keep from relapsing is to be as proactive as possible. Some facilities across the country have seen fewer people looking for treatment and help throughout the pandemic. That doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t have to fall into that statistic.

Now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel in the pandemic. Thanks to the vaccine rollout, more things are opening up. That can serve as your own “light”, too. 

If you’ve been struggling to stay sober, don’t be afraid to reach out to a treatment center as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t able to visit a facility or speak to an addiction specialist in person, it’s worth it to set up an appointment online. 

Remember, you aren’t alone in what you might be feeling right now. Reminding yourself of that can be a tremendous help. The effects of this pandemic won’t last forever, and you can get back on track by seeking the support you need by any means possible. 


Student Stress and Addiction – How to Understand the Connection

Stress and addiction go hand-in-hand for many reasons. When it comes to students, stress and addiction can have an even stronger relationship.

Students—especially on a collegiate level—are constantly bombarded with changes and challenges they may have never had to face before. It’s an exciting time of life, but the stress of it all can become overwhelming at times.

It’s no secret that the drug addiction rates in this country have skyrocketed. Young people are some of the most susceptible, and many are turning toward various types of drugs to manage their stress levels.

Normal Stress vs. Chronic Stress

Everyone experiences stress on a regular basis. It’s a reaction to a specific situation that can leave you feeling overwhelmed. That’s considered “normal.”

Chronic stress, on the other hand, is more prominent and experienced more often.

When you’re in college, experiencing new things for the first time, you may be more at risk for chronic stress. Juggling classes, relationships, friendships, extracurricular activities, and independence, your mind and body can easily feel overloaded.

Stress itself can cause negative symptoms like headaches, fatigue, or even nausea. But, it’s how you respond to the stress in your life that makes a difference.

Using Drugs to Manage Stress

When your body experiences stress, it goes into “fight or flight” mode. You then have to make a decision on how you’re going to handle it. This is the point where many young people turn toward substance abuse.

By taking a substance, you’re able to eliminate the feelings of stress and anxiety for a while. If you’re dealing with chronic stress, addiction can happen rather quickly. Mostly, because you’ll want those negative symptoms and overwhelming feelings to be gone all the time. So, you’ll turn to drugs more often.

When you’re under a lot of emotional stress, you tend to lose control of your impulses, too. So, it becomes easier over time to reach for some type of harmful substance without even thinking about it. Unfortunately, that adds fuel to the addiction, making it harder to escape your drug habit over time.

Finding Better Ways to Cope

Using drugs to manage stress is simply a way to “escape” for a while, and to dissociate yourself from the overload of emotions you might be feeling.

This isn’t the best solution or form of “treatment” when it comes to managing stress. Thankfully, there are many healthier options you can take to manage your stress levels and beat your addiction.

If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the stress, don’t hesitate to ask for help. A strong support system can make a big difference in managing anxiety and coping with stress. Things like exercise, meditation, and deep breathing can also be effective.

The sooner you recognize your coping mechanisms for stress aren’t healthy, the better. As you start to utilize other options, you can begin to steer yourself away from drug use.

Seeking Professional Help for Stress and Addiction

One of the most productive and effective things you can do to combat stress and addiction is to take part in addiction counseling.

This is especially effective if your substance use has gotten out of hand and you can’t manage it on your own. Getting to the root and underlying cause of your stress can make it easier to deal with your addiction.

As a college student, it’s not uncommon to turn to a quick fix to combat your stress levels. But, turning to different substances will quickly lead you down a path that is difficult to escape.

The connection between student stress and addiction may not come as a surprise. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a connection that has to keep getting stronger.

If you’re a college student struggling with addiction due to stress, please contact me. You can also visit hereto learn more about how I can help. Together, we can work on different coping mechanisms to help you manage your stress levels, and deal with the effects of addiction.